Friday, May 30, 2008

Northwest Watercolor Society's Tour to See How Daniel Smith Makes Watercolor Paint

Last Wednesday, 13 board members of the Northwest Watercolor Society visited the Seattle Daniel Smith Store to tour the on-site manufacturing facilities where the Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are made. The same manufacturing facilities are also where the Daniel Smith Original Oil Paint , Daniel Smith Ultimate Acrylic Paint , and Daniel Smith Printmaking Inks are made.

The tour was in four parts:

Since this was a VIP tour, it began with Katherine Taylor, Manager of the Bellevue Daniel Smith Store introducing John Cogley, owner of Daniel Smith, to the NWWS board-members. The group met at the front of the store where the video of "How Paint is Made - The Daniel Smith Way!" plays in the foyer of the Seattle Store. John talked to the NWWS group about what was happening on the video by explaining some of the processes, sharing stories and answering questions. It was really interesting to find out a few new things I had not previously learned before since John is very involved in the entire process beginning with being active in finding new minerals for Daniel Smith Prima Tek Paints .

David Pruneda, who works in the Seattle Store, took over for the next part of the tour by leading the group through the store to the room where the weekend FREE demos are held, it's also used as a Gallery. The group took seats to listen to David talk about the minerals used for making Daniel Smith Prima Tek Colors by showing and passing around some of the corresponding minerals such as Azurite Genuine . There were "rocks", and jars of powered minerals and examples of Prima Tek watercolors painted out on watercolor paper. There was also a map on display showing where some of the minerals come from...literally all over the world!

The next part of the tour was conducted by Ron Harmon, the long time Daniel Smith Chemist, who took us back into the manufacturing room. There Ron showed us the the 5 large to huge mixers that the pigments are mixed with the various liquids. Watercolor with Gum Arabic and water, Acrylic with acrylic emulsion, Oil with either safflower or linseed oil, and Lithographic ink with litho varnish. Next, are the various three roll mills that "take the pigment particles and tear them down" to transform the mixes into Daniel Smith paints and inks. While we were there, one of the mills was being used to refine Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold Watercolor , so it was extra cool for the NWWS group to see. Lastly Ron lead the group over to see the two filling machines, one for watercolors and the other for acrylics, where the tubes of paint are filled. The inks are actually too thick for the fillers and the cans are hand filled beside the mills. Here is a trivia question for are the labels applied to the tubes? Answer: by hand! Bonus answer: by Ron's daughter's hand!

Next, David lead the group back to the demo room to answer more questions...there is always so much to learn!

At the end of the tour, most of the group were amazed that while they "knew" that Daniel Smith manufactures its' name brand paints and inks, they had not realized that the Daniel Smith Watercolors , Acrylics and Oil Paints and the Printmaking inks are actually made in the same building as the Seattle Daniel Smith Store.

Next time you are visiting the Seattle Daniel Smith Store to pick up more art supplies, just remember that a couple of walls over on the south side, is where the magic of COLOR for your paintings is made!

The tours are now resuming after a long hiatus, and Daniel Smith Manufacturing Tours are available by appointment for groups of up to 20.

Boardmembers of the Northwest Watercolor Society, thank you for coming, we were happy to see you, and show you how our Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors are made!

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